An award-winning California-based political cartoonist says he is receiving death threats over a 90-second animated film he created that teaches viewers "how to speak Tea Bag."
Mark Fiore compares his predicament to that of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoon depicting the prophet Mohamed caused rioting across the Muslim world several years ago, and an attempt on his life last week.
"Muslim extremist, meet Tea Party extremist. Tea Party extremist, meet Muslim extremist," Fiore writes on his blog.
Fiore's video, which appeared on NPR's Web site, causing outrage from some conservative commentators, offers a tongue-in-cheek 90-second lesson in speaking like a tea bagger.
"If you're having trouble understanding the words of others, use Tea Bag's stronger, more descriptive ways," the narrator suggests, to which a tea-bagger is seen responding: "Nazi! Nazi! Nazi!"
"When speaking Tea Bag, it's not polite to draw attention to others' campaign contributors or industry connections," the narrator says. "Remember, they speak Tea Bag just like you.
"Tea Bag: because other languages are just too hard," the narrator concludes.
That drew harsh criticism from Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who attacked NPR for posting the video on its Web site. In a discussion of the video with another Fox News personality, O'Reilly wondered whether the Fiore video was a sign that the non-profit radio network is a "left-wing Jihadist deal."
It was presumably O'Reilly's on-air complaints that drew the wrath of Tea Party supporters, as O'Reilly made his comments this week, while the video itself has been available since November.
"Ah, nothing like death threats from the Tea Party crew to get your morning started," Fiore tweeted Thursday morning. "Death panels, anyone?"
In his online reaction to the death threats, Fiore offered an olive branch to his political opponents:
To all of you who have written emails and comments, I really wish I could respond to every one of you. I truly appreciate your taking the time to write, even if we may be on different sides of the political fence. If there is one thing that my politically mixed San Francisco/Idaho background has taught me, it is benefit of continuing a discussion even if you don’t agree. Too often these days, the Left and the Right immediately shut down if you are deemed to be from the opposing camp. Here’s to good discussion even if we don’t agree.
Now please don’t kill me.
The following video was uploaded to YouTube by Mark Fiore, Nov. 19, 2009.